Think Nobody Gives a F**k? I Do
Got your attention, didn’t I? Today I’d intended to tell you “How My Awesome Wife Is Crazy,” a lighthearted fluff piece on how, this past weekend, we not only didn’t divest ourselves of our dogs, but added a cat! But that was before I’d read Donald Miller’s blog yesterday morning. He posted on “Children Don’t Learn They Matter from the Bible. They Learn it From You.” And it’s true. Of the things I learned growing up—that beer’s important, sports are important, sex is important—number one with a bullet was that I wasn’t important. That nobody gave a f**k. This began even before I did.
My parents married in 1967, and I came along two years later. I now know they didn’t intend for me to be: they were using some kind of birth control that clearly turned out to be ineffectual. I also know this now: although they didn’t intend for me to be, God did—but even now I sometimes struggle with believing it. It often feels like I’m making it up as I go along, like I missed out on some essential “life skills” classes (the remedial ones are called “therapy”).
There’s so much that I had to find out on my own because there wasn’t someone who cared enough to show me. I’m frankly jealous when I read Donald Miller’s accounts of his awesome mentors, how he’s a writer now because David Gentiles believed in him. I didn’t have that. The closest I had was Siggy (not his real name), the pot-smoking school psychologist, who told me my poetry sucked. Maybe it did, angst-ridden teenage drivel that it was, but is that what you tell a kid who wants to be a writer? Whatever his strong suits were—beyond smoking, martini-making, and ordering a mean pizza—I never found out. My own dad was gone long before he left—checked out of my life, for life. Siggy didn’t believe in me. My mom was too busy working to be involved. Somewhere along the way I stopped believing in myself. I got the message loud and clear: I didn’t matter. You know what you do when you don’t matter? You act out. Because any attention is better than no attention. So I acted out, got heavily into teen rebellion—and all that entails–but nobody cared. It got me no attention. The only thing it did do was lose my brother some friends. And I didn’t care at the time. I was too in love/loathe with myself.
That is another one of the consequences of a kid being left to his own devices: self-involvement. It’s real simple: if it doesn’t feel like someone is looking out for you, your interests, you look out for yourself. Of all my bad habits, this one has been the most detrimental to my marriage. If I wanted something, I got it—I didn’t talk to my wife. Packages showed up—Xbox 360, computer parts. This of course left her feeling like the proverbial third wheel (in a marriage of two—we’re not polygamists!), like she’s unneeded. I couldn’t understand why she was upset. I didn’t get that marriage is an equal partnership. (It is solely by the grace of God that we are soon to celebrate our twentieth anniversary).
Another consequence of neglect is self-protection—walling off one’s heart, not letting anyone in. We weren’t made to do life alone, but when you don’t get the love from your parents, when they’re distant, uninvolved, dealing with their own crappy lives, whatever, your heart becomes a walled garden. Makes trust just so easy, right? Wrong. You hide, secretly thinking that if anyone knew the real you, the true you, they’d run away as far and as fast as they could. So you fake it to make it. And that right there is what I’m sick of: faking it. I’m not going to fake it anymore. I’m who, what, where, I am by the grace of God; so help me, I can do no other.
And that brings me to the reason this blog exists: to put my story out there in the hopes that it blesses just one person, that there’s one person who can identify with it. I’m hoping that we can encourage one another on this journey called life. I hate to be crude, but I want you to know that I give a f**k. I know what it’s like when it feels like nobody does. (Incidentally, if you don’t like the title of this post, blame Anne Jackson. I learned from her the power of using provocative titles. I kid. It’s solely my responsibility. If you’re offended, and stop reading, I’m sorry, but I understand).
If you’re the praying kind, please pray for me, because I’m a lot more like my dad than I care to admit. I see it in how I treat my kids the most, how I tend towards isolating myself from my family. Thanks so much! By the way, **=”or” Thought you should know. 😉